Now that we're coming to the end of lockdown, it'll soon be safe to go on dates that don't involve sitting at home watching Netflix or chatting over FaceTime. That being said, it's still better to meet in an outdoor setting, where it's easier to adhere to social distancing rules than in a packed museum, restaurant, bar or shopping centre. Whether you've just met, have been dating for a while, or are happily married, there is no shortage of romantic date ideas for couples in London that won't jeopardise your health or that of other people. From admiring the city's iconic landmarks to exploring London by boat, to visiting Kew Gardens, there's bound to be something from the following suggestions that catches your eye, regardless of your interests.
Going for a walk has been one of the most popular activities since the first lockdown came into effect back in March 2020. A walk is a fantastic way of getting fresh air – and it'll also help you get to know your date better, especially if this will be your first date with them. Instead of opting for your local park, meet your date in Parliament Hill and stroll to the top of the hill, where you'll be met with breath-taking views of London's sprawling skyline. Go at sunset for the most romantic experience, and bring along a picnic. Parliament Hill is less than half an hour away from central London, so it's fairly easy to get to.
If you or your date is competitive, why not play a game of tennis? Tennis is a vigorous way to connect, and you can have a laugh at the lack of skills you or your partner has. As they say, "couples who sweat together stay together". There are numerous courts all over the city, and a lot of them are situated within parks so you can combine your tennis match with a picnic or romantic walk. Book a court through Will to Win, and don't forget to bring your own racket and tennis balls.
With international travel still not advised for the time being, now is the perfect opportunity to explore more of what's available on our front doorstep. London is such a vast area, with diverse neighbourhoods that range from the trendy Shoreditch to the colourful Notting Hill to the elegant Belgravia. Visiting new parts of London can be fun your own, but it's so much better if you've got someone to appreciate the city's offerings with. Bring along your camera (or make sure that you've got enough space on your phone) and grab a takeaway drink from one of the independent cafes you pass on your walk.
Another socially distanced date you can do with your significant other involves renting a GoBoat. Not only is hiring a GoBoat romantic, but it is also eco-friendly: GoBoats have low emission rechargeable engines and are made of recycled and sustainably sourced materials. GoBoat operates in Kingston and Paddington, so you can sail past Hampton Court Palace or along Little Venice. And don't worry, you don't need any previous boating experience as training will be given upon arrival. Be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment. Renting a GoBoat costs £79 for a 1 hour session, £119 for 2 hours, and £159 for 3 hours.
As we're heading into spring, it'll soon be warm enough to have picnics again. Designate one person to bring sandwiches and other nibbles and refreshments, while the other can pack drinks, cups, plates and a blanket to sit on. The most romantic parks to have a picnic with your date or other half include Hyde Park, Holland Park, Alexandra Park, St Dunstan-in-the-East and Hampstead Pergola in Golders Hill Park. Alternatively, you could discover one of London's garden squares, for example, Porchester Square Gardens and Hanover Square Gardens. Whilst you're having your picnic, keep an eye out for London's wildlife; depending on the location of your picnic, you may be able to spot a number of animals, including deer, ducks, pelicans, ring-necked parakeets, swans and peacocks.
Recreate one of the most iconic scenes in Grease by taking your date to a drive-in cinema. Being able to watch your favourite movies or the latest Blockbusters on a big screen while most cinemas are still closed will entice you away from your sofa for a few hours. Huddling up is super romantic and you don't have to worry about interacting with too many people (only your date and vendors, if you're feeling a bit peckish). Expect old gems, recent hits and feel-good musicals, such as Dirty Dancing, Grease, Mamma Mia and Space Jam. Bear in mind that you should remain 2 metres apart from people you don't live with, so going to a drive-in cinema is something you should do with a long-term partner from your own household.
Foodies can head to Borough Market for a socially distanced date. Try a warming apple crumble from Humble Crumble, the finest cheese from Borough Cheese Company, or homemade pastries from Artisan Foods. You could also watch one of the various cooking demonstrations to learn more about food. It's best to visit Borough Market when it's less crowded so you can sample all the delicious food on offer without worrying about coming into close contact with other people. Remember to wear your face mask and use hand sanitiser before and after touching any products.
Situated south of the city, Kew Gardens is a beautiful garden full of plants from around the world. While Kew Gardens is immensely popular amongst tourists and residents of the city, social distancing measures have been put in place to ensure that visitors remain safe and it doesn't get too overcrowded. Admire the Japanese temples or walk along the Treetop walkway. Enter the greenhouse, which has a warm humidity that will make you feel as if you're in the tropics. Although it is still relatively cold at the moment, Kew Garden is beautiful all year round, so wrap up warm.
Been stuck in London since March? Chances are you're eager to escape the city and have a bit of a break. Embrace the great outdoors and go on a camping trip with your partner. Camping is a fun alternative date, and will enable you to get away from London for a night or two. Plus, it's so much cheaper than staying in a hotel and you can be completely secluded from other people. There are several of camping sites within easy reach of London, for example Barefoot Campsites near Oxford, Lee Valley Campsite just outside Chingford, and Pete's Field in Kent. Simply bring plenty of water and snacks, toiletries and a change of clothes, and you're good to go.
A self-guided walking tour is a great unique date idea that will get your step count up and it gives you something to talk about with your partner. With many forms of creativity being shut down due to the pandemic, many people have turned to street art as a way of expressing themselves. Shoreditch, Hackney, Camden and Leake Street Tunnel in Waterloo are some of the best places in London to find street art, and you can either join an organised tour or just wander around and see what you can spot. Discover the creations of renowned artists such as Banksy, Stik, Said Dokins, Camille Walala and Marija Tiurina, as well as unknown artists.
Cycling is a fun outdoor date idea that will help you and your partner work up a sweat, and it's a change from your daily walk. While London is a very busy city (even in the middle of a pandemic), there are so many scenic bike routes that will take you away from all the traffic and aren't too much of a hassle to get to. You can try the Tamsin Trail, which spans from Richmond Park to Ham House; or cycle along Regent's Canal, from King's Cross to Notting Hill. If you don't own a bike, you can hire one using Santander Cycles from just £2. There are over 700 docking station across the city, and at least 11,000 bikes in circulation.
Up for something a bit challenging? Why not suggest paying a visit to Hampton Court Palace Maze for your next date? Located to the north of the palace, the maze was commissioned by William III in the 1700s, and was designed by George London and Henry Wise. Although Hampton Court Palace is renowned for confusing its many visitors, it only takes about 20 minutes to reach the centre point – but that does depend on whether you get lost or not! After you've solved the maze, take a walk around the gardens, which include 60 acres of formal gardens and 750 acres of parkland, and feature a multitude of fountains and beautiful floral displays.
If you aren't dating anyone at the moment, you can always do some of these activities with your friends or family – or even by yourself!